Principle #4: Rely on God’s Strength

I. Introduction

The story of Deborah in Judges 4-5 provides a powerful example of relying fully on God’s strength. Deborah was an unlikely leader – an ordinary Israelite woman called by God to judge and lead Israel during a crucial time. The nation suffered under Canaanite oppression for 20 years before Deborah arose as God’s chosen deliverer.

Humanly speaking, Deborah did not possess the natural qualifications to defeat Israel’s enemies. Yet God used her remarkably by the power of His Spirit working through a surrendered life. Despite her human limitations, Deborah accomplished the impossible through faith in Yahweh’s promises and strength.

Deborah’s life illustrates a key spiritual principle – victory belongs to the Lord, not human ability. Her example challenges us to humbly acknowledge our weakness and rely wholly on God to work through us. When we walk in an intimate relationship with Christ and radical obedience to His calling, there is no limit to what He can achieve through fragile earthen vessels.

As we examine Deborah’s leadership, we discover a model of deep surrender, courageous obedience, and childlike trust in God’s power to save. Deborah points us to fix our gaze on the Almighty’s supremacy, not human inadequacy. Through her remarkable story, we are reminded that our weakness provides an opportunity for the Lord’s strength to shine brightly. Let us be emboldened to live by faith in the all-sufficient One.

II. Deborah’s Background

“I, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel.” (Judges 5:7)

Though an ordinary Israelite woman, Deborah was sovereignly chosen by God to lead the nation as judge and prophetess during a crucial time period. The people were languishing under Canaanite oppression for 20 years when the Lord raised up Deborah. Despite her unexpected calling, Deborah accepted the role God gave her to lead and guide His people. She understood that His strength working through her was enough, regardless of human weakness or limitations.

Deborah arose as an unlikely leader

Deborah was a woman in a patriarchal culture and a wife residing in the hill country, not a trained military commander. Yet the people came to her for judgment and guidance because they recognized God’s hand upon her. When God calls us to a task or assignment that seems illogical and impossible by worldly standards, we must respond in obedient faith as Deborah did. His sovereign purpose prevails over human understanding.

The Bible says Deborah would sit under a palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would come to her for settling disputes (Judges 4:5). As a judge, Deborah acted as a leader and deliverer, settling controversies and providing leadership to the nation.

Though Deborah was mightily used by God as judge and prophetess over Israel, she remained humble – pointing the people to the Lord as their Deliverer rather than taking any credit herself. As we will see, Deborah’s leadership inspired united trust in the God who fought for them. May we manifest the same humility when God chooses to work through us.

Deborah embraced the unexpected calling God placed on her life. She did not view herself as too weak, underqualified, or illogical a choice according to human wisdom. With childlike faith, Deborah trusted the Lord’s sovereign purpose and timing. Her example challenges us to accept the assignments God gives, not based on our own logic or limitations, but on His power and grace to equip those He calls. What matters is not background and ability, but willingness and dependence. Our weakness provides an opportunity for His strength to shine.

III. Deborah’s Complete Dependence on God

Deborah Summons Barak to Battle

“And I will give him into your hands.” (Judges 4:7)

When God directed Deborah to summon Barak and 10,000 men to confront Sisera’s intimidating army, she promptly obeyed. Barak insisted that Deborah accompany him, indicating her critical leadership role and authority. More importantly, Deborah declared the Lord’s promise that He would deliver the enemy commander into Barak’s hand – the real power behind any victory. Rather than relying on military prowess, Deborah pointed to the Lord as their warrior and deliverer.

Deborah demonstrated remarkable faith in God’s power and promise by summoning Barak to face Sisera’s vast forces with only 10,000 men. By all military standards, this seemed like suicide. Yet Deborah obeyed God’s call rather than human logic or fear. She embraced His assignment, fully trusting the Lord to achieve the impossible through their weakness.

Though Barak agreed to lead the army, he lacked confidence to go without Deborah. This showed the esteem Israel held for Deborah as God’s chosen judge and prophetess. Her leadership was critical in inspiring the troops’ courage and faith in Yahweh. Deborah’s spiritual authority commanded greater respect than Barak’s military position. Her presence reminded the soldiers that the Lord Himself stood as their shield and banner.

In response to Barak’s hesitancy, Deborah declared the Lord’s promise to draw Sisera’s army to the Kishon River and deliver the Canaanite commander into their hands. God would lead them to triumph, not human prowess. Deborah anchors their hope completely in Yahweh’s pledge rather than natural circumstances. She trusted God’s word over visible odds.

This exemplifies Deborah’s core spiritual leadership – pointing people to hope and victory in the Lord versus personal ability or earthly means. She understood that success in God’s work relies on His supernatural power, not well-equipped armies. Her faith in Yahweh’s promise encouraged the troops to courageously confront Sisera’s intimidating forces in their own weakness.

The passage states Deborah rose and accompanied Barak as God directed. She did not allow Barak’s lack of confidence to deter her from obeying the Lord’s call. Deborah acted on divine wisdom rather than emotional reactions or human understanding. This courage sprang from her intimate relationship with God as His prophetess.

Deborah’s humble dependence on the Lord rather than self was key in defeating God’s enemies. Though leading the army into battle, victory belonged to Yahweh alone. Likewise today, we are to trust in the Almighty’s deliverance in every assignment He gives, not our own abilities. His power ensures triumph when we walk in faith and obedience.

IV. Deborah’s Army Had No Weapons

“Yet, not a shield or spear could be seen among forty thousand warriors in Israel!” (Judges 5:8)

This verse indicates that Deborah’s army of 40,000 Israelite warriors did not possess conventional weapons when they went to battle against Sisera’s forces. Based on a close examination of Judges 4-5, it seems Deborah’s troops trusted wholly in the Lord to fight for them rather than relying on their own military strength and weapons.

Several details in the passage support the conclusion that Deborah’s army had no shields, spears or other standard armaments:

  • Judges 5:8 plainly states that among the 40,000 Israelite warriors, “not a shield or spear was seen.” This clearly conveys a lack of typical weapons.
  • Verses 15-16 describe the warriors from various tribes who came to the valley to join Deborah and Barak. But the verses make no mention of these tribesmen carrying weapons as they marched.
  • The passage emphasizes it was the Lord Himself who marched before the armies (5:15) and actively fought against Sisera’s forces (5:19-22). This highlights Israel’s dependence on divine intervention rather than their own military prowess.
  • Deborah’s song focuses on praising God for enabling the weak to triumph over the strong (5:21, 31). This aligns with the theme of an army without weapons overcoming the more powerful Canaanites.
  • Judges 4:14 declares God would deliver Sisera into Barak’s hand, not an armed Israelite army. This further shows their reliance on the Lord rather than human strength.

Deborah’s leadership inspired courageous faith in God’s power to save, not man-made weapons. Her willingness to confront Sisera’s vast army with no shields or spears displayed remarkable trust in the Lord’s promise to achieve victory through His might alone.

Rather than relying on logical military strategy, Deborah obeyed God’s direction in faith. She led the troops to the valley as the Lord commanded, even though they were weaponless against Sisera’s 900 iron chariots. Deborah depended wholly on God’s supernatural intervention, not human strength or armor.

God honored their faith by miraculously throwing Sisera’s army into confusion and laying them low before the unarmed Israelites. As Deborah predicted, the Lord marched before them and caused the Kishon River to sweep away the Canaanite chariots. Her army willingly followed God’s guidance to take bold risks and witnessed His mighty hand of deliverance.

Deborah’s courage as an unmatched female military leader sprang from her deep trust in God’s faithfulness. She points all praise back to Him in her song, declaring, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has disposed of the enemies of his people” (Judges 5:2). The victory belonged fully to the Lord, who fought for those who relied completely on His strength.

Deborah’s success reminds us that God delights to use weak vessels who trust wholly in His power. When we acknowledge our human limitations and depend on the Lord’s wisdom and leading, He will equip us for every assignment. No enemy can stand against the Almighty. Like Deborah’s army, we do not need to rely on human weapons or strength when God fights for us. His sovereign arm alone brings deliverance.

The Lord promises: “No weapon forged against you will prevail” (Isaiah 54:17). Through faith in Christ’s finished work, we can confidently confront life’s battles, knowing God causes us to triumph and will destroy every enemy. His power within us is far greater than any force opposing us. Like Deborah, we are to boldly carry out our callings in humble dependence on the One who brings certain victory.

V. How Deborah Won the Battle

Here are some key points about how Deborah, with God’s help, defeated Sisera and his army:

  • Deborah was chosen by God as a prophetess and judge to lead Israel at this crucial time. The Bible says the Israelites came to her for judgment and guidance during her leadership. She relied fully on the Lord’s wisdom and direction, not her own understanding (Judges 4:4-6).
  • The Lord directed Deborah to summon the military commander Barak and 10,000 men of Naphtali and Zebulun to confront King Jabin’s vast army under Sisera’s command. Deborah promptly obeyed God’s instructions despite the intimidating odds (Judges 4:6).
  • Barak insisted Deborah accompany him into battle, which displayed the immense respect Israel had for her spiritual leadership and authority. Deborah was a critical source of courage for the troops (Judges 4:8).
  • Deborah declared the Lord’s promise that He would lure Sisera’s mighty army to the Kishon River and deliver them into Barak’s hands. This showed her steadfast trust in God’s sovereign plan and power to achieve victory, not military strength (Judges 4:7, 14).
  • Deborah willingly went with Barak against the massive Canaanite forces when he hesitated to go alone. She acted in faith based on God’s direction, not human wisdom or fear (Judges 4:9-10).
  • The Lord kept His word and confused Sisera’s chariots, rendering them unable to maneuver. This allowed Deborah and Barak’s vastly outnumbered troops to overcome the Canaanites. Deborah attributes the victory completely to the Lord (Judges 4:15, 5:20-21).
  • Sisera fled the battle and was killed by Jael, the wife of a Kenite ally, fulfilling Deborah’s prophecy that the Lord would deliver the enemy commander into the hands of a woman (Judges 4:17-22).
  • Deborah’s song in Judges 5 praises Yahweh alone for the victory He achieved over powerful enemies. She highlights God’s mighty deliverance despite human weakness (Judges 5:2, 9, 21, 31).

In summary, Deborah exercised remarkable faith and courage as God’s chosen judge and prophetess. She obeyed the Lord’s call and direction over fearful human logic. Though militarily outmatched, Deborah trusted God’s promise to bring deliverance through their weakness. Her praise went solely to Yahweh for fighting and winning the battle for Israel.

Deborah’s leadership teaches us to rely wholly on the Lord in every assignment, not our limited strength or resources. When we trust God’s promises, He will bring supernatural victory. All glory belongs to the Almighty who sovereignly achieves His will through humble vessels.

VI. Key Takeaways

” Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has disposed of the enemies of his people.” (Judges 5:2)

Deborah’s life and leadership provide powerful lessons for believers today. Her unwavering faith in God’s promises and complete reliance on His strength inspire us to trust the Lord fully in our challenges and assignments.

Like Deborah, we must humbly acknowledge our human limitations and inability to accomplish anything of eternal value in our own wisdom and strength. We are utterly dependent on God’s power and direction. Our tendency is to trust in human resources, talents, or education. Yet Kingdom work requires total reliance on the Spirit’s guidance and empowerment.

We must devote ourselves to prayer rather than self-reliance. Cry out to the Lord for His supernatural intervention and strength in every battle. Wait on His instructions rather than charging ahead in our own reasoning. God delights to answer prayer and reveal His mighty arm on behalf of those who depend wholly on Him.

Remain submitted to God’s training and correction in your life. Let Him prune away areas of sin and strengthen weak spiritual muscles. Submit to the Father’s loving discipline so you are equipped for every good work. Let His Word and Spirit shape your character to reflect Jesus.

Walk in courageous, radical obedience to Christ, no matter how illogical or fearful the task may seem. Step out in faith like Deborah when God calls you to combat intimidating spiritual enemies and strongholds. Trust the Lord’s abundant power and promises. He will always provide the victory.

When we rely fully on Yahweh’s strength like Deborah, He receives all the glory for triumphing over every enemy and obstacle. No weapon or challenge can thwart God’s sovereign purpose when we place unshakable faith in Him. Our weakness allows His power to shine brightly. Like Deborah, may our praise be to the Lord alone who fights and wins each battle for His people. He is our unwavering confidence.

VII. Conclusion

“To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Deborah’s remarkable story demonstrates that when we depend completely on the Lord, His power is displayed greatly through our weakness for His glory. Though an ordinary woman, Deborah exercised extraordinary faith in the face of impossible odds. She trusted fully in Yahweh’s promises and might to achieve victory despite overwhelming enemy forces.

This miraculous triumph of the weak over the strong testifies to God’s unmatched supremacy. He is the warrior who wins each battle for those who rely wholly on Him. No human limitations can thwart the purposes of the Almighty when He fights for His people.

Like Deborah, we must choose to fix our eyes on how great our God is rather than how weak we are. Though we lack natural strength, wisdom, and resources, the Spirit within us is infinitely greater than any enemy we face. His power can accomplish far beyond what we can imagine.

When we acknowledge our inability apart from Christ, God receives all glory for victory. His strength shines most clearly through vessels emptied of self-reliance. He uses the weak, foolish, and lowly to triumph over the world through His might. Our successes must be credited to Yahweh alone.

As we courageously step out in His assignments, trusting His promises over visible odds, our faith is strengthened. We witness His awe-inspiring deliverance again and again. He proves Himself faithful when we depend on His power, not ours. This emboldens us to live by faith in carrying out our callings.

Deborah’s life inspires us to wholly rely on the Lord and say yes when He calls us to participate in His miraculous work. Though the task seems impossible in human terms, we can trust our Almighty Deliverer. His purposes will be accomplished through those who choose courage in the face of fear, radical obedience in spite of uncertainty and childlike faith in the face of impossibilities. May our weakness become a stage for His strength.

Application Questions

  1. In what areas of your life are you depending on your own strength and abilities rather than relying fully on God? What shifts need to happen to trust Him more?
  2. How can you cultivate a deeper intimacy with God through prayer, studying the Word, and listening to the Spirit’s voice? What specific steps will you take?
  3. Do you tend to delay or hesitate when God calls you to a challenging assignment? What fears hold you back from responding promptly in faith?
  4. How can you demonstrate more humility and point people to hope in Christ rather than seeking praise for yourself? What does it look like to give God glory for accomplishments?
  5. In what current “battles” do you need to fix your eyes on God’s power and promises rather than your own limitations? How can remembering past faithfulness strengthen your trust?
  6. What specific actions show your devotion and surrender to following Jesus above comfort and reputation? Are you “counting the cost”?
  7. How can you walk in greater courage as you step into God’s calling, despite uncertainty and fear? What does trusting His power and leading look like for you?
  8. How can remembering the eternal purposes of God provide perspective amid earthly troubles? How does clinging to hope in Christ bring endurance?
  9. In what ways do you sense God wants to use your weaknesses or limitations for His glory? Are you willing to say yes despite feeling ill-equipped?
  10. How can Deborah’s example of radical obedience inspire you to live more fully for Christ? What is one specific step of faith He is calling you to take?

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